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Massachusetts

Funding for Prescription Advantage Slashed Since 2007

‘Lifeline’ continues to shrink

Although Patrick leaves them untouched, home health care and senior protective services—already operating at reduced levels due to last year’s budget cuts—and councils on aging could still be affected. That would have a huge impact on people who depend on them.

In the seaside town of Hull, Mass., older residents count on the Anne M. Scully Senior Center and its van. Anita Kaufman, 90, and Josephine Murdock, 101, receive rides to and from the center on the four days each week it is open. They were there on a recent gray, rainy day, enjoying cake and each other’s company.

“It’s been very good for me,’’ Kaufman said. Her husband died nearly seven years ago and she has since moved in with her daughter. When people ask her what she does with herself, she said she tells them she goes to the senior center where “I talk and talk.’’

Murdock said the van is invaluable since her daughter, now 75, had hip surgery and no longer drives. Otherwise, she said she probably would just lay in bed, do crossword puzzles and read, as she does on Saturday mornings.

“I’m just happy to have it,’’ she said.

Barbara Lawlor, executive director of the Hull Council on Aging, is among those anxiously watching the state budget process, hoping services can be maintained.

She said budget cutbacks have led to the van driver’s hours being cut from 30 to 19 a week, forcing people to occasionally reschedule medical appointments. More cuts are looming. Lawmakers said in March they may cut as much as 4 percent from local aid in next year’s budget.

Edward Flynn, executive director of South Shore Elder Services, which contracts with the state, said 2,500 people statewide are on home care waiting lists, including 129 on the South Shore. “We’re real concerned about services going forward,” he said.

Freelance writer Jean M. Lang lives in Milton, Mass., and is a lecturer at Northeastern University.

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